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The two texts between which we have to choose are: 1. The Old, represented by the "Textus Receptus," as its best known exemplar; 2. The New, represented by the text underlying the Revised English Version.

How shall we choose? The processes of textual criticism require a very special training, and the application of them demands the devotion of a life-time. They require also ample leisure, with access to all the treasures of the libraries of Europe. All these essentials are lacking to the missionary in China. It has been most truly remarked that we have among us no specialists in textual criticism. Without making any absurd pretensions in these lines the choice between the Old and New texts is fairly open to us, and can be made on intelligent grounds.

Let us first look at the Old text. It is not even easy to say what the so-called "Received Text" is. Whatever it is, it is not the text from which the Authorised English Version was made, and in truth there never has been a Greek text corresponding to that Version; the one which comes nearest to this position being apparently Beza's last edition of 1598. The name "Received" was at first simply a printer's flourish applied to his own work without any authority whatever, It appears in the preface to an edition of the Greek Testament printed at Leyden in 1633. The printers were the brothers Elzivir, famous for their beautiful typography. In this preface reference is made to a previous edition printed by them in 1624, and they boldly describe it as "omnibus acceptam," and give the following assurance to the purchaser of the later edition, "textum ergo habes nunc ab omnibus receptum."

There is absolutely no other ground than this for calling the Old text the "Received," unless the dubious one that the elegant printing of the Elzivirs gave this text a popularity which delayed for many a day the production of a better.

We must go back a few decades farther to trace the sources of this text. These editions of 1624 and 1633 are substantially reprints of one printed by Beza in several editions, of which that of 1565, or that of 1598, may be taken as the standard. The former of these is said to differ from the Elzivirs' text in only eight passages. But Beza's Greek Testament is again practically a reprint from the fourth edition, printed in 1551, of a text compiled by Robert Stephen, the famous printer of Paris, differing from it only in twenty-five passages. That again was a reprint (with about fourteen changes) from Stephen's folio edition of 1550. There seems to be room for doubt whether the text of Beza or that of Stephen is better entitled to claim to be the text underlying the Authorised English Version. Opinion seems to be in favour of Beza's, though

it differs from the Authorised Version in nearly two hundred passages.

But we have not yet come to solid ground, and it remains to ask, What were the sources from which Stephen derived his text? Again we are thrown back on yet another printed edition, the "Complutensian Polyglott," which seems to have been Stephen's principal authority. This is the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament, and was produced in 1514 under the patronage of Ximenes, the Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo. It gives the Greek text and the Latin Vulgate side by side. In our search for authority for the old text we are met at this point by the disconcerting fact that we are absolutely without trustworthy information as to the mannscript material employed by the editors of this text.

It is the chief merit of Stephen's work that besides the printed Polyglott of Ximenes he collected and used fifteen manuscripts for the correction of his text. His critical material stood thus :

1 Printed edition, printed in Spain, 1514, from unknown sources. 1 Manuscript of the Gospels of the 5th or 6th century (now known as D.)

1 Mannscript of the Gospels of the 8th century.

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3 Manuscripts of the Acts and Epistles of the 10th century.

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It at once strikes the modern reader that this was a very defective outfit of material, and its defects were not balanced by any special skill in the handling of it. It is safe to say that the voice of all these authorities on any disputed question, even if it were united, would not outweigh that of any one of those which are now recoguised as of the first rank. Stephen's text was further influenced by that of Erasmus, printed at Basel in 1516. This was undertaken at the instance of the prin:er Frobel, and was pushed through the press in great haste, in order to forestall the publication of the Spanish Polyglott, which was actually printed before Erasmus began his work. Conscientious editing was manifestly sacrificed to the exigencies of the printer's rivalry. The manuscript authority on which Erasmus based his text consisted of one inferior mannscript of the fifteenth century for the Gospels, one of the thirteenth or fourteenth for Acts and the Epistles and an incomplete one of the twelfth century for the Book of Revelation. It is a curious incident of the textual history that both Erasmus and the Spanish editors

used the almost incredible liberty of giving in some places a Greek text purely their own, not founded on any authority, good or bad, but simply an original Greek version of their own making, translated by themselves from the Latin of the Vulgate. Erasmus, indeed, rather boasts of it as a proof of his diligence that even where his Greek authorities failed him he has not left his readers unprovided with a text! Still more startling is the fact, not usually adverted to by those who cling to the "Received Text," that it contains some of these curiosities of textual literature to this day. It is fair to add that these cases, though interesting, are quite trifling in number and extent.

In brief, we have Ximenes, or rather his editors, with Erasmus and Stephen constructing their texts from materials, which must have been ample indeed, as compared with those available for most of the treasures of ancient literature, but very defective as compared with those now in the hands of students of the sacred text. Then we have the Leyden printers, the brothers Elzevir, availing themselves of these men's labours and printing the result with a high degree of typographical skill, but with no pretensions to textual scholarship. In offering their work to the public they boldy dubbed it "The Received Text," and the title has taken hold. It is used to this day to induce us to believe that there is no security for a pure text outside of the edition so successfully stamped with the approval of-its own printers!

What has been said in denial of any peculiar authority attaching to the so-called "Received Text" does not touch the question of its correctness and value. Happily on that head there is not much need for discussion. We shall have occasion to notice presently that between it and the modern critical texts there is far less difference than many seem to suppose. Looking at the text itself, apart from the process of its growth, we may devoutly and thankfully recognise the "singular care and providence" of God in preserving the purity of His own word.

We are free, then, to look without uneasiness for a better authenticated text if we can find one and agree upon it. Can we do so?

Of the enormous advance in respect of material no one has any doubt. The Alexandrian, the Vatican and the Sinaitic manuscripts in the first rank, with some others not far behind, and an innumerable multitude of others of every degree of extent and value, in addition to the early versions and the collected citations of early Christian writers, make up a mass of precious material before which the sixteen inferior authorities of Robert Stephen shrink into insignificance. Upon this material, too, labour without stint, and skill and devotion beyond all praise, have been lavished by genera

tions of accomplished scholars. Is it rational or lawful to forego all these great gifts which God in His good providence has placed in the hands of His Church? Few surely can think so.

But, it is said, granting the value of all this material it is not yet digested so as to be available for practical use. There are as many texts as there are editors, and who shall judge between them? Let these rival editors first adjust their differences and agree among themselves, and then we can choose between the Old text and the New one they offer us.

Very plausible this contention looks, and the unwary are misled by it. But on closer inspection it is seen to be groundless, and in spite of it one may safely repeat the affirmation already made that the texts offered us for choice are only two and no more-the Old and the New. The editors in a word have agreed already, that is to say, if we depart from the "Received Text" we do not then proceed to choose among a bewildering variety of others. There is but one, the one which I have called the "New" text. Which is it? Is it that of Tischendorf? of Tregelles? of Westcott and Hort? or of the English Revisers? or of the American Revisers? It is any one of these taken at random if you will, or it is the average and resultant of all these taken together. For these are not many, but in substance one. This is specially true for students who study for their own profit, for ministers of God's word, who wish to expound its sense, and for translators who have to convey its meaning into another language. For them many minor questions of spelling and so forth, with which a critical editor must concern himself, are of no importance, and in the more substantial variations which affect the meaning the critics attain a large degree of unanimity.


But in view of much discussion that has taken place the assertion now made requires illustration and justification. Let us take the point of view of a translator who must study minutely the wording of his text. What is the area of difference between the texts with which he has to deal?

Taking for example the "Received" Text and that of the Revisers we find that a large proportion of the variations do not affect the translator's work at all. Differences of spelling, differences of the order of words when it does not change the meaning, differences of particles, tenses, cases, and occasionally of words too slight to be represented in a translation-these can all be laid aside. Those that remain let us call substantial variations. How many are there of these? In the Gospel of Matthew there are 233, in the Epistle to the Romans there are 50, in the Epistle to the Galatians there are 29.


Compare "The Resultant Greek Testament," edited by R. F. Weymouth.

Now it is necessary to test the agreement and difference of the textual editors as to these variations. It was proposed some years ago that for purposes of translation into Chinese Scrivener should be taken as an arbiter between the Old text and the New; the New being followed wherever Scrivener gives it his support. Apart from the narrowness of this test it is inapplicable for another and a conclusive reason. Dr. Scrivener has nowhere published a text of his own, nor has he given his judgment between different readings, except in a few scattered instances chosen to illustrate the application of the principles set forth in his "Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament." But he has happily supplied us with the means for applying very readily a much better test. In his "Novum Testamentum Textus Stephanici, Editio Major," he has reprinted with great accuracy the Old text from Stephen's edition of 1550. He has indicated variations of reading by a thick type in the text, and at the foot of the page has brought together the readings of Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort, and the English Revisers. Now it is easy to run through the passages enumerated above and learn how far the Received Text and how far the Revisers' Text is supported by these weighty names. The result is instructive.

In the 233 substantial variations of Matthew's Gospel there are 170 cases of absolute unanimity, ie., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and Westcott and Hort are in every respect at one with the Revisers. There are also nine other cases of nearly complete unanimity. These are cases in which the Revised Text omits a word or phrase, and in five of them Lachmann, and in four Tregelles, indicates a certain degree of hesitation by enclosing the word or phrase in brackets. Again, there are four cases in which Lachmann and Tregelles unite in this use of brackets, while Tischendorf, Westcott and Hort, and the Revisers are at one in the omission.

We are thus left with 50 cases only in which there is a real difference of opinion (i.e., 233—[170+9+4]=50). What is the extent of it? There are 22 passages in which Lachmann alone, 11 in which Tischendorf alone, and 8 in which Tregelles alone, differs from the Revisers. That is, 41 out of the 50 are cases in which the great textualists fail of unanimity only by the lack of a single vote in each case.

What of the remaining uine passages? In two of them Tischendorf differs from the Revisers; Tregelles also differing from them in his text, though giving their reading a place in his margin. In five cases Lachmann and Tregelles, and in one Tischendorf and Tregelles, differ from the Revisers. Thus in these eight cases two votes are lacking to unanimity in each, but the Revisers are

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